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OotS, Arc 2: No Cure for the Paladin Blues (121-300)
The second story arc of Order Of The Stick is where everything really begins. It is here that Burlew formally introduces the overarching plotlines that drive the rest of the strip, including the political intrigue of Azure City and the significance of the Gates all over the land. Even with the expanded storyline, though, Order of the Stick retains the characteristic humor that made it so enjoyable in the first place.

The comic begins similarly to the first arc in the beginning, with the story acting more as a frame for the various gag-a-day strips seen so far. However, once Miko Miyazaki shows up, the underlying story begins to take front and center. The transition is fairly gentle, though - even if one can tell that a more involved plot is coming, the story meanders around a while before finally reaching full speed towards the end. This works well for the style of the comic - Burlew understands that while a story may be needed to generate long-term interest, it was and still is the humor of the irreverent and self-referential OotS world that brought readers there to begin with.

"No Cure for the Paladin Blues" also establishes that the members of the Order aren't entirely flat characters. Multiple cast members end up interacting with each other and enduring trials that leave them with a new outlook - sometimes for better, some times for worse. The cumulative changes are mostly subtle, and the casual reader may not notice it, but a long time fan might return to this arc and see it as the point where Roy or even Vaarsuvius begin to shift into the characters they are now. Burlew had the idea of Order Of The Stick's storyline for a long time running now, and it shows.

Fans of Chekhov's Gun might find this arc to be a veritable armory. Foreshadowing spotters, take note.

In summary: many readers will come for the no-holds-barred jab at fantasy conventions, and stay for the epic story worthy of its own fantasy novel. Whichever you're looking for, Order Of The Stick will not disappoint.
I agree. The second arc is really where Oot S grows the beard. While the plot does get alot deeper it also retains alot of it's humour which is really great to see. Great review.
comment #468 wellinever 19th Jun 09
People actually read this comic for the plot?
comment #3988 76.120.178.12 15th Aug 10
People don't read this comic for the plot?
comment #4007 116.49.62.184 15th Aug 10
The plot is rather cliched and comedic and most of it is resolved with extreme luck, so I don't know why people would take the plot seriously.
comment #4008 76.120.178.12 15th Aug 10
Without the plot, all you're stuck with are some decent jokes and stick art. Sure, the characters are rather interesting, but soon, you're going to have to want something with more substance.
comment #4019 112.118.70.108 16th Aug 10
There's nothing wrong with having a plot. I just don't know why people take it so seriously when the plot itself really isn't that great and most of the conflicts are resolved by being incredibly lucky.
comment #4022 76.120.178.12 17th Aug 10
Which is why you need the razzle-dazzle.
comment #4033 Phrederic 18th Aug 10
I like the plot, actually... Sure, it's not the most innovative or original one ever, but it doesn't have to be. It's interesting and it gives a support frame for all of the gags and Character Development going on throughout. Just because this sort of thing has been done before doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable, and in my personal opinion I think the fact that "being incredibly lucky" works as much as anything else in this universe is just another part of the humour. So yeah. I agree with the original poster of this review; the overarching plot really adds to the story. But I can see why other people might not, so I'll just point out that this is only my personal opinion.
comment #7157 KiriAme 2nd Apr 11
The plot isn't the best, but it's SOMETHING, at least. Not to mention that it's based on D&D, which isn't exactly the pinnacle of high literature when it comes to storytelling. The plot works as a way to make the characters far more interesting and to make it something more than just a random series of RPG cliche jokes. "Adventurers!" did that, and while it was amusing it never really worked until there was actually a plot, even if not totally original.

And let's be honest, in a game that relies on rolling dice, "being incredibly lucky" is sort of required, so I'd call it justified.
comment #8713 DominusTemporis 18th Jul 11
Being incredibly lucky once in a while is OK for a serious plot. OOTS resolves almost all of its conflicts this way (Or just by making one of the characters act incredibly stupid). Dice roll or no dice-roll, it's ridiculous for a serious plot. And unfortunately, there seems to be a common misconception that "good results = good idea".

Why does Belkar say "everyone knows the Linear Guild is no serious threat" despite the fact that they nearly screwed over the party twice in the past, and were only stopped by sheer luck? Why are the fiends treated as masterminds despite the fact that their plan had a ridiculously high chance of failing? Why is Vaarsuvius's decision to take the fiends' offer considered such a bad idea despite the fact that it was the best way to end 90% of the conflict in the story immediately?

While I don't really take the story seriously anymore, I still read it for some cheap entertainment.
comment #8727 eveil 18th Jul 11
^ A Deal With The Devil is always a bad idea. Creatures like that don't hand out favors out of the goodness of their hearts- they'll have an angle, and by the time all is said and done, it probably won't be fun for whoever accepted said deal. Of course, if you're clever enough, you might be able to pull off a Faustian Rebellion- but that's pretty long odds.
comment #8747 MasterGhandalf 18th Jul 11
^There's nothing wrong with a deal as long as they actually follow through with their deal, and not in a Jerkass Genie kind of way.

There wouldn't be nearly as many people saying what V did was bad if he permenantly ended Xykon. Which would have put a large dent in the fiends' plan as well. And it's perfectly plausible for V to have killed Xykon at the time they made the deal.
comment #8749 eveil 18th Jul 11
^ Do you honestly think there's a slight chance of three archfiends offering you superpowers without a catch of some sort? That's the thing about making a Deal With The Devil, as opposed to getting divine aid or calling in favors from a morally neutral being like a genie- embodiements of evil don't play fair, they don't want to help you for the sake of helping you, and they've almost always got an agenda. These three definitely did.
comment #8827 MasterGhandalf 22nd Jul 11
^You're seriously suggesting that making a deal with demons despite the fact that they're bound to follow through completely with their deal to save your family was a bad idea just because they aren't doing it for altruistic reasons?

If you agree to something with someone and it gets followed through in a non-jerkass-genie kind of way, then it's your own fault if you regret it later. As long as they follow through on their deal, you have all the information you need to make a good analysis of the risks and possible consequences. Assuming you have basic decision-making skills, of course.
comment #8830 eveil 22nd Jul 11
^ One should bare in mind that Vaarsuvius is not a good decision maker, and the fiends did stick to their end of the deal, so you're right. It's all Vaarsuvius's fault.
comment #10947 CrazyDawg 21st Oct 11
I actually understand V's situation. People seem to be forgetting that his/her family were about to be killed, there wasn't any other option. What s/he did and how s/he did it once s/he got that power and was corrupted with it though...
comment #10948 marcellX 21st Oct 11
You realize the only debatable evil thing V did after that was familicide a group of dangerous always chaotic evil creatures and probably made the world a better place, right?
comment #10949 eveil 21st Oct 11
Chaotic Evil creatures... who may not have actually done anything. If you view the comic in terms of alignment, you're missing out on a whole bunch of the comic.
comment #12584 MangaManiac 30th Jan 12
Chaotic Evil creatures... who may not have actually done anything.

If you haven't done anything, then you're not chaotic evil. Or if it means that you would do something chaotic evil if given the chance, then V made the world a better place by killing them anyways.
comment #12588 eveil 30th Jan 12
The comic, IIRC, actually, made a point of the fact that not all the creatures slain by the Familicide would have been Chaotic Evil. Sure, all the pureblood dragons would have been, but halfbreeds without such natural restrictions upon their alignment were also afflicted.
comment #12930 Osric 21st Feb 12 (edited by: Osric)
Hmm, good point, even if those creatures were in the small minority.
comment #12935 eveil 22nd Feb 12
Alignment isn't a straightjacket.

Pardon me for referencing a print-only book, but in Start of Darkness the goblins of Redcloak's village, who have not actually done anything and are pretty much nice people, set off the Paladin's evil alarm and they come in and kill them all in order to get the wielder of the Crimson Mantle.
comment #12962 MangaManiac 24th Feb 12
Alignment isn't a straightjacket.

Not for the reasons you're thinking of. Alignment can change. The only time alignment doesn't dictate your actions is while it's in the process of changing. Although OOTS can't decide how it wants to treat alignment.

Pardon me for referencing a print-only book, but in Start of Darkness the goblins of Redcloak's village, who have not actually done anything and are pretty much nice people, set off the Paladin's evil alarm and they come in and kill them all in order to get the wielder of the Crimson Mantle.

If those goblins set of the paladin's evil alarm, then they're either evil, or the paladins' evil-vision is broken. If they're nice people, haven't done anything, and wouldn't do anything even in the right circumstances, then maybe they shouldn't even be considered evil?
comment #12963 eveil 24th Feb 12
Alignment isn't a perfect judgement of character. That's one of the comic's main themes.

Remember Miko? There's no debating she was Lawful Good. But that didn't stop her from being a crazy whackjob who would be happy to kill someone just for appearing "Evil" on a Detect Evil scan. Yes, she fell, but that was because she killed Azure City's leader over a hunch, not because she broke alignment.
comment #12968 MangaManiac 24th Feb 12
Saying one of your characters is Lawful Good and then having her act in ways that aren't Lawful Good doesn't prove anything.

There's no debating she was Lawful Good.

Keyword: Was

But that didn't stop her from being a crazy whackjob who would be happy to kill someone just for appearing "Evil" on a Detect Evil scan.

She's pretty well-justified for it, considering that just about every single Evil character in the OOTS universe is actually pretty evil. Except for those goblins, who the author needed to make us feel sympathy for, so he portrayed them as good and then slapped an evil alignment on them anyways.

Yes, she fell, but that was because she killed Azure City's leader over a hunch, not because she broke alignment.

You can execute your own unarmed and non-combatant ruler without a trial and still be considered Lawful?
comment #12969 eveil 24th Feb 12 (edited by: eveil)
Hmm, good point, even if those creatures were in the small minority.

SPOILER:

As seen on the page 842, V's familicide resulted in the death of the whole drakentooth clan, which also means that actually a great number of creatures including humans died.
comment #13005 marcellX 28th Feb 12
As seen on the page 842, V's familicide resulted in the death of the whole drakentooth clan, which also means that actually a great number of creatures including humans died.

Yes, what an unfortunate and contrived coincidence.
comment #13007 eveil 29th Feb 12
^ That it was the Drakentooth family is a coincidence, dragons mating with other creatures is another matter. While it makes them a minority it still amounts to a large number of creatures, so not only did the Drakentooth clan died, but also any other decendants similar to them, and any other decendants of creatures that mated with that dragon line. And as seen by Elan's parents, alingment doesn't prevent hook ups.
comment #13022 marcellX 1st Mar 12
When V casted familicide, it showed about 60-something dragons and 1-2 part-dragons being killed, so it was assumed that was everyone V killed. There's a pretty good chance the author just randomly decided to add in this plot twist sometime after the familicide.
comment #13024 eveil 1st Mar 12
^ How does that work? it was stimated that s/he killed 1/4 of the black dragon race, I doubt that it's so small that it only had around 200 members (specially since it's shown on that same page that even in the Oot S universe dragons can save several eggs). And again, the fact that Drakentooth was related to them could be a plot twist added on later, but the implications that hybrids and it's decendants died, given that dragons can mate with practicaly anything were present from the moment it happened, since the author is borrowing a world that already existed.
comment #13027 marcellX 1st Mar 12
^Ah, right, forgot about that. Disregard that last statement.
comment #13028 eveil 1st Mar 12
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